Reading through the descriptive information page for new indie game ‘The Adventures of King Croc’, one word was used to sell me on this game, ‘Retro’. Fair enough, after all this is a retro indie gaming website, so this should be a winning combination. The hyperbolic description of how this game ‘re-imagines how 2d games [will] work’, along with the promise to relive the glory days of difficult platform puzzlers sets itself a mighty task indeed.
The prospect of utilizing, now popular physics based puzzle features, like those found in Valve’s Portal games and even a nod toward Minecraft’s bloc creation tools had me a tad excited for what an indie game could deliver by combining all these features into a gem of a 2D puzzler.
Players progress through each stage by collecting Red crystals, which provide ‘ammo’ for your multi-purpose ray utility gun. This allows the creation of jumping pads, to bloc creation and destruction. It also does portals yay!
Sadly this expectation of what could have been a great game idea is completely destroyed by perhaps one of the worst games I have ever played.Everything about this game feels wrong. The NME flavoured title music is horribly juxtaposed with the repetitive stage bleeps that are about as original and irritating as the game itself and the moustachioed Red plumber kidnapping a princess is about as inspired as a 'pull my finger' joke.
Have we met?
The graphics, if you can call them that, are more akin to Microsoft paint visuals. The whole tutorial stage is drenched in a single overlay of battleship grey that feels more like a developer testing staging zone and things do not get any better afterwards. The following world consists of a simplistic level design that takes all of 10 seconds to navigate, then obstacles are placed until the player has exhausted every combination possible for reaching the goal. Each of these stages are considered 'levels' of a single screen 'world' with horrible un-textured visuals and fast paced music that would make an 8-bit Casio calculator feel ashamed.
Fifty Shaders of Grey....
The only ‘retro’ aspect of this title is regarding the rigid gameplay and controls. There is almost no leeway in daring to perform complex manoeuvres with King Croc in order to complete a stage. I was stuck trying to trying to reach a crystal and assumed I could make a massive catapult jump to swing myself over. Sadly this resulted in me only traveling one in-game centimeter. For a puzzle game to work around the idea of a physics based design, it has to... actually have some physics.
Reading about the progress this title has made from ‘overwhelmingly exciting’ test idea on the showfloor to ‘a fully realise[d] game’, I cannot help but think this is simply a quick cash grab from developers wishing to make a quick buck. This entire project smacks of corporate opportunism by a few who are attempting to siphon the buzz of the free and cheap indie gaming scene. By charging customers the princely value of £0.60 and not making this game a free download, these developers are allowing themselves to be placed under the scrutiny of anyone unlucky enough to be fooled into buying this travesty of a title. Judging from the ethos of ‘Brighthead Game Studios’, who seem to be more interested in appealing to financial institutions, rather than the gamer themselves, I doubt the criticism of their games makes much difference to them as long as they attract ‘branding’ for their ‘made in a day’ titles.
This unfinished mess of a title should be explored by schoolchildren with a Raspberry PI for their first assignment into the world of software programming, as to what can be achieved within a short lesson of video game programming.
This review was played and written using a review copy of the game, provided by the developers.